John Crowley, digital editor, EMEA at WSJ.com, was a panelist at the ‘immersive storytelling and production’ session at Journalism.co.uk’s News:rewired conference held on 20 February in London.
Cision caught up with John after the discussion to find out what role PRs can play in helping make content interactive.
Should immersive storytelling with interactive features be part of all content production?
A lot of people are filing 1,000 word stories which is fine, we need that. I’m not suggesting that we stop writing words! But there are other compelling ways of telling stories, either through interactive data, multimedia, slideshows or through videos. Dow Jones has nearly 2000 journalists spread throughout the world and what we’re saying is, ‘hey look at these new ways of telling stories through data visualisation, through video, through interactive’ because we’re finding that’s what people are increasingly engaging with. It is explained through the low bounce rate on our Golden Dawn interactive. People interact with stories through illustrations. It makes them want to go and explore the site even more.
What advice would you give to companies that want to make content more interactive but don’t have the resources to invest in a big design team or technology?
What you need to do is look at the ways media reports data — not just The Wall Street Journal, but look at the ways The New York Times or The Times of London are also doing it and think of how the innovative storytelling tools and platforms are being used. It doesn’t just have to be an infographic, there are other forms beyond that. The simplest way to illustrate a story is through pictures, through slideshows. We don’t always do that and by the same token we shouldn’t do it all the time. People tend to think that since everyone is doing it, they should dream something up and throw it in. The key point is that it should fit the data that’s there. You can’t just shoehorn it in and assume it’s going to work. You have to start with the material and data that’s there in front of you and think of how it can be best illustrated.
Is there a need for PR companies to better present information to journalists?
Yes. If a PR approaches a journalist and says they’ve got some data and analysis, and would you like exclusive rights to it, we’d say yes, if it’s newsworthy.
Data is meaningless if not illustrated effectively and with a solid story behind it. That’s key for any PR to have front of mind.